The 3 Natural Laws of Freelance Writing — Understand These to Earn More

Carol Tice

In everything we undertake in life, some basic rules apply. Freelance writing is no exception.

The freelance universe functions under certain principles, just like the big universe in which we live.

I tend to think of these as natural laws of freelancing, sort of like Newton’s laws of motion.

Understand these rules, and it will be easier for you to create the freelance writing career you want.

Ignore them, and you’ll find yourself banging your head against the wall.

I’ve often mentioned these to my mentoring clients…but never pulled them together into one handy reference guide.

So here they are:

Three Freelance Writing Laws

1. Writing work of one kind tends to lead to more work of that same kind, from similar clients and at a similar pay rate.

If you’re writing articles for $10 about pet food, it’s unlikely you will be able to parlay that into writing $1500 case studies about financial services. Likewise, writing articles for the local paper won’t easily get you a gig writing direct mail copy for a Fortune 500 corporation.

Choose your writing niches and clients carefully, because like tends to beget like, both in topic and client quality. It’ll be easier to move up from lower-paying finance articles to higher, or to move from finance to general business…but huge leaps are difficult because they are against the natural order.

2. Getting rid of a problem client creates a vacuum which naturally attracts a new and better client.

If you stay fully booked with crummy, low-paying clients, it seems like you never can find a good one. Fire your lowest payer and use that time to do a little proactive marketing, and bingo — very often, a better client will appear almost immediately.

3. The way you treat clients will return to you, in similar treatment you receive from future clients.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, Newton said. Others would call it the law of karma. But I’ve never seen it fail.

Be a stone pro and always be courteous, prompt, and helpful to clients, and those people will refer you other great clients. Be sloppy, late, or rude when you have a nightmare client, and you will find yourself with more substandard clients.

What other laws do you think govern freelancing? Leave a comment and tell us how you think it works.

 

PS — I’m back because I realized I left out another one of my favorite natural laws of freelancing: “Writing assignments tend to expand to fill all the available time.” Get more booked up and you’ll be amazed at how much more efficient you get.

29 Comments

  1. Lavanya Singh

    Hi Carol,
    My name is Lavanya, and I am a writer based out of India. I made the mistake of starting out by writing for content mills, an experience that I will, sadly, never forget. I am now looking for websites that pay better, since I am still a student and cannot work full time.

    I just wanted to ask whether you have some in mind. Additionally, could you please tell me how to market myself effectively? What kind of websites should I target? (I am interested in writing ebooks, or travel articles. I can also work on customer case studies). How do I keep my morale up?

  2. Anne Grant

    The Balloon Law: When you get a new client, especially a really big fish, don’t tell them every feature and benefit right away. They get overwhelmed with the barrage of information. Give them enough to stay interested or lead them to take the next step, letting a little air out of the balloon at a time.
    (I get sorta excited–I have been known to bust the balloon and scare them away, so I am quite familiar with this one…and the “fine” I pay when I break it.)

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...